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50 Years of MOFGA, Maine’s Champion of Horticulture

The much-admired organization has been keeping it organic since 1971.

Maine’s first certified organic farm, Ken-Ro Farm, in Plymouth.
Maine’s first certified organic farm, Ken-Ro Farm, in Plymouth. Photo courtesy of USDA.
By Will Grunewald
From our September 2021 issue

1971

A handful of counter-cultural back-to-the-landers banded together to establish the nonprofit Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. The next year, the group started to certify organic farms around the state, and today, there are some 500 MOFGA-certified organic farms.

1977

An annual harvest festival, the Common Ground Country Fair, debuted at a Litchfield fairground and drew 10,000 visitors. Several years later, it moved to a larger venue in Windsor and, in 1998, found a permanent home at MOFGA’s recently acquired 200 acres in Unity, where fair attendance regularly surpasses 50,000.

Common Ground fun. Photo courtesy of MOFGA.
Common Ground fun. Photo courtesy of MOFGA.

1981

The newly formed MOFGA legislative committee started lobbying for pro-
organics bills. Early successes included a measure requiring transparency in stores about produce with post-harvest chemical treatments. This spring, lawmakers approved a MOFGA-backed Healthy Soils Program, creating a best-practices info and support hub in the Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry.

Augusta rally for GMO labeling. Photo courtesy of MOFGA.
Augusta rally for GMO labeling. Photo courtesy of MOFGA.

1999

MOFGA launched its Journeyperson Program, connecting fledgling farmers with experienced mentors and providing them with seed discounts, educational funding, and access to shared farm equipment for two years.

2014

The first trees were planted in the Maine Heritage Orchard, in a former gravel pit at MOFGA’s Unity headquarters. Now, more than 300 types of heirloom apples and pears from around the state grow there.

John Bunker and Laura Siegel, Maine Heritage Orchard stewards. Photo courtesy of MOFGA.
John Bunker and Laura Siegel, Maine Heritage Orchard stewards. Photo courtesy of MOFGA.

2021

In a public library turned Abercrombie & Fitch outlet turned vacant storefront in Freeport, MOFGA opened the Maine Organic Marketplace. In addition to MOFGA merch, the gift-y shop sells products from MOFGA members — bouquets of dried flowers, goat-milk soaps, maple syrup — and hosts educational sessions on making preserves, managing gardens, and more.


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